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Paying close attention to its 19th-century context has created an office with character, says Ike Ijeh
Office design has undergone countless permutations of late as architects and landlords strive to define what the office of the future might look like. While the air-conditioned, open-plan floorplate concealed within an anodyne glass or metal box formula is sadly still very much in existence, it is being challenged by new kinds of workspace that seek to radically reinvent what we consider a traditional office to be.
Many modern offices have consistent themes. There is often a strong emphasis on domesticity and community as designers seek to redress the perceived corporate anonymity of office design by making them look and feel more like our homes. There is the playful “Google” approach where colour and recreation are used to animate the working day while subtly promoting enhanced creativity and commitment. And there is the idea of the office as a stripped-down, sustainable super-flexible work environment modelled on the raw and robust efficiency of a factory.
The stripped-down concept was memorably executed by AHMM at the White Collar Factory office building on the eastern edge of London’s Clerkenwell in 2014. And now at the opposite end of the same district, they have developed another new typology of office building. One which, according to practice co-founder Paul Monaghan, is “so embedded in its context that it appears, quite literally, to have grown organically out of its surrounding neighbourhood”.
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